CONCORD, N.C. — It is red. It is a beverage. It is red, red wine.
Stain removal is more than putting a chemical tool on the stain and then blowing the stain away with steam.
Thought must be given to the fiber content and the stability of the dye or ornamental trim that could be damaged by the chemical or mechanical action. Taking one step at a time, in order, can change the outcome of your stain removal efforts.
A good example is red wine.
It is a red beverage. In most cases, the beverage is something diluted in, or at least containing, water. The stain most likely went on wet, so it should break down to water. The remainder of the stain is from a plant.
Let’s put the stain over the solid part of the board and apply some neutral synthetic detergent (NSD) and extremely light mechanical action, if the fabric can tolerate any mechanical action.
Now place the stain over the vacuum nose of the board and flush the stained area. By using a chemical tool with a neutral pH of 7 and using minimal mechanical action, you have eliminated the risk of color change, while removing more of the stain. Risk reduction is always a good thing.
A NAUGHTY RED
At this point, the red wine stain is smaller and less intense than it was when you started. But it is now that you must apply your knowledge and expertise. You must pay close attention to the fiber content.
Fibers from animals are adversely affected by an alkaline pH, while plant fibers are adversely affected by an acid pH.
Work quickly to flush a protein stain-removal tool from fibers like wool, silk and cashmere, as protein stain removers usually have an alkaline pH. Work quickly to flush a tannin stain-removal tool from fibers like cotton, linen and ramie, as tannin stain removers usually have an acidic pH.
The weave of the fabric is important during the stain removal process. A plain weave is reasonably stable when mechanical action is applied. A plain weave is 1 over, 1 under, with the yarns at a 90-degree angle.
A twill weave is also stable when mechanical action is applied. A twill weave is 1 over, 1 under, but with the yarns at a 45-degree angle, giving the weave a characteristic diagonal impression. All other weaves and knits should be approached with caution.
Special attention should be placed on a satin weave (yes, it is a weave, not a fabric), which is 1 over, 4+ under, and is easily distorted by yarn slippage. Satin should always be spotted with a pad, not a brush, and always tamped and never brushed.
A challenging red wine stain would be in an aqua-colored silk blouse, with a satin weave.
Turn the blouse inside-out and flush the stain over the vacuum nose of the board, from the back side, holding the gun a little farther away from the garment than usual.
Pull the stained area over the solid portion of the board and apply a liberal amount of NSD. Apply light mechanical action with a padded “brush” or your regular brush wrapped in a cloth. Bristles are great for most fabrics, but fragile items like silk fiber and satin weave require a less aggressive approach.
Pull the stained area back over the vacuum nose of the board and flush again with steam, using the same extra distance as a margin of safety. By removing much of the stain with steam and NSD, you have made the rest of the job much safer and easier.
Place the stained area over the solid portion on the board and apply a mild tannin formula. Tamp the stain with your padded brush, then flush the area over the vacuum nose of the board.
Test a stronger tannin, then use that tannin the same way as before. Test general formula, then use that tannin the same as before. When the stain is gone, dry the area over the vacuum nose of the board using a circular motion and working from the outside to the center.
It would be nice if safe stain removal was simple, but it is not. It would be great if safe stain removal could be taught in an hour or two, but there are far too many variables.
Effective stain removal is far more than just squirting something on a red wine stain and hoping good things happen. Take the time to improve your odds of not having to use a “Sorry” tag.
To read Part 1, go HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].